On January 5, the second general meeting of the leaders and activists of the International Longevity Alliance (ILA) took place. Frankly, there were earlier some apprehensions that for whatever reasons (perhaps even meteorological) the level of activity and enthusiasm of members of this group was gradually decreasing. It was good to find evidence to the contrary. The meeting took place in an extremely cooperative and constructive atmosphere. About 18 collaborative projects were initiated right there and then. The exact organizational structure, goals and ways to join the projects will be elaborated and announced soon, in the “Projects” section of the ILA website [http://longevityalliance.org/projects/].
I include below just a brief outline of the directions of work. A more systematic presentation of the collaborative projects has been prepared by Daniel Wuttke on his Denigma platform (that will be one of the ILA collaborative projects). Many thanks to Daniel Wuttke, the developer of Denigma, and Edouard Debonneuil, the leader of the overall “Linking Researchers” project!!
(To see the list, please click International Longevity Alliance – Collaborations" href="http://www.denigma.de/experts/collaborations/?labs=555&]sort=labs">Collaborations )
Even now, everyone is welcome to apply to join the teams through the platform or by contacting the key workers in the particular projects. And many thanks to all the participants for their wonderful initiatives!
So here are the initiated projects:
Writing and promoting materials in different languages. As it was suggested, it is very important not only to produce such materials in local languages, but also make people who speak other languages aware of those materials (for example through publicizing synopses in English). Recognition of local and individual achievement is important!
It was even suggested to create a merit earning system, giving people the recognition and respect (if not the money) for the work they do for the cause (and the alliance). Yet, the details of such a system or even its foundation are still uncertain. Even if an exact system of awarding merit for good work is not entirely clear, it may be important for our movement. So mark down a project: Encouraging and recognizing initiative and contribution!
Beside online communications, activism “on the field” also helps to raise morale and public interest in life extension. Several public demonstrations in support of life extension research have already been conducted. The latest one was in December 2012, during the Eurosymposium on Healthy Aging, organized by HEALES, where many supporters of ILA met [http://longevityalliance.org/the-brussels-summit-of-longevity-activists/].
Such public actions and demonstrations can be easily replicated across the world. Perhaps they can even be conducted simultaneously in many countries of the world, deploying media coverage. In addition to such public demonstrations, petitions and law proposals could be submitted, study groups can be held, and many more activities in support of life extension done. Such coordinated activities across the world can be done at any time.
One idea that was raised during the meeting was to organize some form of joint longevity activism during the forthcoming Future Day on March 1, or other non-specific date, or setting a special regular “Longevity Day,” for such collaborative activities. To include all the options, this project may also be called “A Day of Concerted Longevity Activism.”
To facilitate the collection of knowledge, exchange and distribution of free and accessible information about longevity, a Wikipedia project was initiated.
A related item is the Collaborative Knowledge Management Project that will provide a repository of information on Aging and longevity researchers and Research centers, as well as providing linking tools.
And yet another form of knowledge collection and sharing will be the creation of Educational Platforms on longevity, for different audiences, lay and more academic.
There is an overarching “Linking Researchers” project, initiated to facilitate the interaction with and between researchers in the field. A part of this project is an ongoing Skype ILA meeting: the "Worldwide Continuous Longevity Skype Meeting".
The “Longevity Media” project will enhance the ILA website with advanced media options, possibly introducing a kind of “longevity radio” and/or “longevity TV channel” in addition to a video conference platform. Additional media outlets and platforms will be sought and linked to increase our Internet presence.
The Longevity Alliance Logo Contest continues. The submission of logos will end on January 31, and then voting will begin.
Complementing the IT projects, the flagship biological project of the Alliance will be the promotion the Age In Vivo Project, testing life-extending interventions in mice, other domestic animals, and simpler organisms, using a Do It Yourself approach.
Several people (quite independently) suggested the need to collect data on people’s health and try to analyse it in relation to Aging, longevity and an optimal life style. Call it health information project.
The health extension media response and outreach team will seek to both react to postings and news in the media about longevity research, as well as facilitate the creation of such postings and news, actively pushing for the public visibility of the topic.
One of the major (perhaps even unique) areas of ILA’s activity is the focus on international Lobbying for Aging and longevity Research, in addition to raising the general public interest and awareness of the issue. The task often requires a very high degree of professionalism, and even restrictiveness. But very often the main ingredient is simply being brave and believing in one’s cause, not being afraid to write and speak to politicians and officials, making them understand that the deteriorative aging process is a grave problem, but not something that cannot be ameliorated by scientific efforts. With such a motivation, almost everyone can become a lobbyist, and everywhere in the world.
Yet it is important to know the procedure for each country, the right message to convey and the right way to convey it.
An ongoing effort is being made to help the head of the Gerontology Research Group at UCLA, Dr. Stephen Coles, who has cancer, to raise funds for his treatment [http://longevityalliance.org/help-save-dr-stephen-coles/]. Thank you very much Edouard Debonneuil for starting such a wonderful project!
It is a great honour to participate in this initiative – on the human level, trying to help a great person, on the communal level – being a part of the international gerontological community helping one of its leaders, and scientific level – by studying the different treatment options attempting to estimate the best and most effective course of action. It is only to be hoped that there will be more projects like this and more active people involved in them.
Looking forward to an active and productive 2013 for the sake of achieving healthy longevity for all!